Is your little one waking up in the middle of the night?
No no, not like that. I mean like really waking up. Waking up and staying up. For hours.
If you’re the parent of a baby who’s dealing with segmented sleep, you know exactly what I’m talking about. This isn’t the brief middle of the night wake up where you may go in and comfort for a few minutes and baby is back to sleep. This is a full-blown 3:00am, I want to party wake up.
You may have heard it referred to as segmented sleep or split nights, and it describes a situation where your little one sleeps for a long stretch, then wakes up happy and energetic in the middle of the night, and stays that way for an hour or more.
This isn’t a new or unnatural phenomenon. Back before the widespread use of the light bulb, people would regularly sleep for a few hours, wake up for another hour or two, then go back to sleep. Nowadays, however, the vast majority of us go to sleep at night and, hopefully, close our eyes and sleep straight through until morning.
But…maybe your baby didn’t get the memo?? Let’s take a quick look at why this happens and then we’ll get to how to solve the problem.
There are two major drivers when it comes to sleep. There’s our circadian rhythm, which is our body clock and our natural tendency to fall asleep when it’s dark and wake up when it’s light, and then there’s our homeostatic sleep drive, commonly known as sleep pressure, which builds up over the time we’re awake.
So ideally, over the course of the day, sleep pressure builds up, then at bedtime, when the pressure hits the sweet spot, baby puts her head down and goes to sleep. As that sleep pressure begins to subside, circadian rhythm takes over and baby stays asleep until morning.
In the case of a split night, we could be looking at one of two reasons why they’re waking up. Baby’s not getting to bed early enough, OR… baby’s going to bed too early.
Sorry! I know this is a conflicting explanation, but stay with me.
If baby’s getting to bed too late, if too much sleep pressure has built up, the brain has an instinctive response that says, “Hey, you’re tired but you’re not sleeping. I’m guessing that’s because there’s a dangerous threat around, so we’d better get ready to run,” and then starts upping the cortisol levels as it goes into fight or flight mode.
The brain means well, but it’s a little behind the times on our need for lion alerts. So this can make it tough for baby to get to sleep at bedtime, since that cortisol’s got them a little bit hyped up. It can also cause a full wake up at the end of a sleep cycle, which commonly happens around 2 or 3 in the morning. Ugh.
If this is the case, you’re one of the lucky ones. Treat this like any other night time wake up, reassure baby that it’s still bedtime, comfort her and let her get back to sleep on her own, and consider moving bedtime up a bit over the course of a few nights.
But then there’s the alternate scenario. What if baby’s getting to bed too early.
In a situation where baby’s getting lots of quality daytime sleep and going to bed early, it’s possible that there’s not enough sleep pressure built up to keep baby sleeping until their circadian rhythm takes over and helps them sleep through the rest of the night. And now that there isn’t as much sleep pressure, and their circadian rhythm doesn’t have the horsepower to get them to sleep on their own, suddenly they’re up and active for an hour (or three!) while that pressure builds back up.
Now, I’m all about early bedtimes. Too little sleep is a much bigger problem than too much. But if your baby’s experiencing this kind of split-night sleep, it’s worth looking at their schedule and doing a little finetuning. This is where it is important to look at wake times- how long your baby is awake between sleeps. How many naps they are getting and how much total daytime sleep is happening. All of these things should be age appropriate and will determine the appropriate bedtime. Contact me for a handy guide to help you with this.
I know that this can all start to sound like a complicated math problem, but the more you understand where to make those minor adjustments from day to day, the better your baby will sleep, and the less they’ll run into these regressions, setbacks, and interruptions.
One last thing to consider if you’re getting ready to tackle this situation- this is not likely to be an overnight fix. Once baby has gotten into this habit, getting them out of it can take some time. Like any attach mentor dependency, overcoming it is an incremental process and it’s likely to meet with some push-back, so if and when things get tough, remember your goal. You’re giving your little one the skills they need to sleep soundly through the night, and that contributes to their well-being in so many different ways. Stay consistent, be patient, and before too long your baby and you will both been joying full nights of deep, restful sleep.
So your baby has learned to stand up! Congratulations on this fun milestone! This is such a huge step into the world of development that’s coming your way very soon.
Having said that, a lot of babies run into a bit of an issue when they first learn to stand up; they haven’t learned to get back down yet.
During the day, this isn’t much of an issue. Your little one can spend all day standing up and sitting down all while you’re next to them helping them through it.
But once nighttime rolls around, this becomes a whole other issue.
This really puts us as parents in a Catch-22. On the one hand, you can’t just leave your baby in a situation where they might fall down and hurt themselves, but on the other, if you keep going in and laying them down, they don’t learn how to do it themselves. What’s more, they’ll quickly learn that standing up and making a fuss is a pretty effective way to get mom or dad back into their room and paying attention to them.
So there’s a fine line that we need to walk in order to help baby figure out how to solve this little situation they find themselves in without creating a bad habit that could sabotage their sleep.
As with all things in parenting, patience is essential here. Keep in mind that your baby may not know how to go from a standing position to a sitting one on their own yet, and they may not realize yet that sleep comes a whole lot easier when you lie down. Remind yourself of this when they wake you up for the 5th or 6th time in three hours because they’ve woken up and gotten back on their feet again, fussing because they can’t get back to sleep.
The quickest way through the first part of the equation is to develop that standing-to-sitting skill, so during the day, practice going from standing to sitting any chance you get. When baby pulls herself up to a standing position, try putting their favorite toy on the ground nearby, gently encouraging them to go from a standing position back down to ground level in order to get their reward.
Once they’ve got that skill mastered, however, that second hurdle may still be an issue. They may not realize that sleep is a whole lot easier to achieve when they lie down. This is where I like to introduce a little role playing. Stand up, lay down, close your eyes and make some exaggerated sleeping sounds. Model this several times for them. Then see if they will do it with you. You could even have a key phrase or song- “Lay your head down, close your eyes, when the day is done, this is how sleep will come.”
It seems like it should be instinctive, I know, but again, patience mama!
We don’t want to create a situation where baby starts relying on you to do the work for her, so avoid repeatedly laying her down when she stands up in the crib. Do it a few times at first to show her what’s expected, but once that’s established, switch to a more suggestive approach that doesn’t involve contact. Pat the mattress and use the key phrase or sing it and before too long, they should start to connect the dots and realize that lying down is the best way to get to sleep.
Remember, even though it might appear that your little one is fighting sleep sometimes, that’s almost never the case. They want to sleep, but they just lack the skills necessary to get there on their own, so help them figure it out without doing the work for them and they’ll take care of the rest as soon as they develop a little confidence and ability.
And one last little tip! Hats off to all of the single parents out there and the amazing work they do, but if you’re raising baby with a partner, talk this out with them and come up with a plan that both of you can agree on and follow through with. One parent responding with one set of expectations with another responding totally differently is going to confuse baby even further in a situation where they’ve already got a lot to figure out. Both of you will need to respond in the same way in order for your expectation to be clear, and you’ll see results a whole lot quicker if you’re working together.
As always, be calm, be patient, and be consistent. The hard work now will pay off a thousand times over when your little one is sleeping soundly through the night again and happily going down for naps during the day.
Combining sleep training and daycare can be tough, I won’t lie. You are working or have worked hard to get this baby sleeping well and now you have to leave things in someone else’s hands! Good news though, this is absolutely achievable. If you take the time to work with your provider and use these tips to help you do that in a way that will make it as tension-free as possible, you’ll be golden.
So... first of all, have you already decided on your daycare provider? If not, then keep reading. If so, you can skip down to the next section.
CHOOSING A DAYCARE PROVIDER
When you’re deciding on a daycare provider, here are a couple of sleep-centered things to keep in mind. None of these are deal-breakers, they’re just a few things to consider.
Ask them what their approach is to naps. Do they put all kids down at a specific time for a specific duration? (This is really difficult for babies under 1 year old.) Or do they allow kids individual nap times?
Ask to see where they’ll be sleeping. Is it a fully-lit room with several other kids or a semi-private space where they can keep things a little darker?
Can you bring your own white noise machine? It can be super helpful to provide the same white noise machine that baby’s accustomed to at home.
Are they capable of accommodating specific requests in regards to baby’s naps as far as how they should be put down?
COMMUNICATING WITH BABY’S CAREGIVER
So, once you’ve decided on a daycare provider, or if you already have your little one in a place you’re happy with, what can we do to ensure everybody’s pulling in the same direction on this sleep issue?
First off let them know what you’ve been through regarding your baby’s sleep. Tell them how challenging it has been and how the sleep deprivation has been affecting you. Let them know you are working on making changes at home and that you would so appreciate their help in keeping things going in the right direction.
Let them know how long you’re comfortable with baby fussing. Most care providers will default to a no-crying approach unless instructed otherwise. Ask them to avoid sleep crutches you’ve already eliminated.Be specific about what you consider a sleep crutch.
Let them know what schedule your baby is on at home. Let them know what time you’d prefer your baby goes down for sleep and what time you prefer they be fed and see if they can accommodate or make any compromises.
Let them know what environment your baby is accustomed to at home and see if there is anything they can do to mimic it.
Be respectful of their limitations though. Daycare providers are looking after a lot of kids at once and are often required to follow some safety rules, so don’t be surprised if they can’t accommodate every request you throw their way.
Above all, maintain open communication. Ask them to provide you with a report of what times your baby slept that day. This will help you plan out your evening and know what time to put your baby to bed! Remember that they want your little one sleeping well almost as much as you do. A well-rested baby who goes down for naps without a lot of fuss is a daycare provider’s dream come true.
A FEW RANDOM TIPS
Regardless of the particulars of your baby’s situation with their sleep in their home away from home, here are a few tips that are likely to come in handy...
If you haven’t started sleep training yet, start on a Friday night, or whatever day is farthest away from their next day of daycare.The first couple of nights are usually a bit of a roller coaster and so it’s best to get at least three nights and days in at home before going to daycare.
Babies are usually capable of distinguishing between different environments. Habits they learn at daycare won’t necessarily transfer over to sleep in the home. So,if your daycare provider does things differently or has a much different sleep environment, baby should still be able to understand that things are one way at daycare and another way at home!
Different schedules at home and daycare can be problematic. It is a definite bonus when schedules can align. I would really advocate that they follow your schedule if at all possible! If they can’t,then you may have to go with their schedule and adopt that schedule for at home too and see how your baby handles it. They may do better than expected! If your baby is a year old, then the typical nap at lunch time usually works out just fine! It is those younger babies that are less flexible.
If baby starts falling asleep on the ride home, this may be just fine- it depends on their age. If they are 6 months or under, a little cat nap on the way home should be fine. Just be sure to wake them up as soon as you get home so they can have some good wake time before bed. But if they are over about 7 months old then they will need a good few hours awake before bedtime and you will need to do everything in your power to keep them awake on the way home!
All in all, there’s no reason why daycare and sleep training can’t work together. Just keep in mind that your daycare providers are your allies in this mission. They have a vested interest in your little one being as happy and well rested as possible, and they obviously want to keep baby’s parents happy too. Maintain open lines of dialog, be respectful and patient,and accept that they can’t always tailor things to each individual child as much as they would like to. Keep up your bedtime routine, stick to your schedule as closely as possible, keep baby away from those sleep crutches, and things will fall into place, I assure you!
I LOVE the 4th of July! It's always been a favorite holiday. But the older I get, the more I dread being kept awake until the wee hours every night of the week leading up to the 4th! I know, what a scrooge! Anyone else relate?!
For many of you, you might be more concerned about your children's sleep than you are about your own! I'm always surprised at how well our kids sleep right through the ruckus. But some kids are lighter sleepers than others. Here are some tips to gear up for the loud nights ahead:
1. Warn your toddlers/big kids ahead of time! Let them know that there is a chance they'll be woken up by some fireworks. It's nothing to be afraid of and they can just go right back to sleep. You may need to go in and reassure your child and help them get calm so they can drift back off to sleep.
2. Turn up the white noise! This will help block out some of the environmental noise from outside. You might even place it strategically between a window and their bed.
3. Balance out the late bedtimes. Night after night of less sleep will absolutely catch up with your child and will actually make them sleep less soundly! 1 or 2 late nights for the week are no biggie but don't plan to do it every night. They will sleep better when they are in bed on-time.
4. If your child is asleep well before the fireworks start, they will be in a deeper sleep and will be more likely to sleep through! So if you've got a baby, it will be a good idea to get them to bed on-time if you can!
Have fun and be safe! Happy Independence Day!
There are two things I can pretty much guarantee you when it comes to teaching your baby to sleep through the night.
1. It’s going to be a challenge
2. It’s going to be completely worth it.
Like many big decisions though, there are times that are ideal and times that are less so. Today, I’d like to offer some tips for deciding whether or not it’s the right time to take on this challenging, but very rewarding journey.
Are you going to be around? I don’t recommend taking on sleep training if you have less than 2 full weeks before leaving to go out of town for a weekend or on a full vacation. It’s also best to start on a weekend if you have a child in daycare and you work traditional Monday-Friday hours. An extra day off of work is also very helpful!
Is it the right time for your baby? Your baby should be old enough- 4 months+. And your baby should be healthy- not dealing with an ear infection or painful reflux that isn’t under control, etc.
Is your partner on board? It’s hard enough as it is, but if your partner is discouraging you from following the plan or isn’t following the plan when they are in charge of your child’s care, it will be near impossible. Consistency is key and it’s helpful when you can lean on your partner for support and tag-team throughout the process.
Are the symptoms of sleep deprivation starting to show? Are you starting to feel depressed, moody, forgetful, unmotivated, clumsy, or unfocused? Is your sex drive starting to wane? Have you noticed an increased appetite and carbohydrate cravings? These are all symptoms of sleep deprivation and they’re no laughing matter. Society tends to make light of the whole, “exhausted new parent” persona, but the more we learn about the health effects of sleep deprivation, the less of a joke it becomes. If you’re sleep-deprived or feel like you’re on the verge, now’s the time to take some action.
Are their accommodations ready? Does your child have their own sleep space ready to go? If your child is under 2.5 years old, have a standard crib with the mattress at the appropriate height ready to go. Make sure the space is completely dark, cool, and quiet. The sleeping arrangements and logistics can get tricky so I’m always here for custom recommendations for my client families!
Don’t wait for the “perfect moment”. There will ALWAYS be an excuse not to start. Little things will keep popping up now until your child’s graduation! So if it’s minor, then don’t let it stop you from taking the leap. Sleep training doesn’t get easier as time goes on.
So now that you know all that, if you feel like the time is right and you’re ready to get started, let’s get going! Message me and we can start putting together a plan for your baby right away.
So I think we can all agree that these are extraordinary times, and as such, they require some extraordinary measures to keep everyone sane and halfway functional. For some of us, that probably means some big adjustments to the usual routine. This whole situation is, obviously, beyond crazy and we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do here, but I just wanted to drop in here and give you some tips to keep your children feeling secure and rested, and to help you keep your sanity while you’re at it.
STICK TO THE ROUTINE
Ever wondered why a game of peek-a-boo can make a baby squeal with delight as readily on the hundredth time as it does on the first time? Their expectations are being met! Routines give kids a sense of security. Knowing what’s on the schedule provides them a road map for the day, and the knowledge makes them confident and puts their minds at ease. So even though there isn’t a lot going on these days, there is something to be said for keeping parts of their lives predictable and consistent.
JUST EMBRACE THE SCREEN TIME
It’s not possible to expect parents to be full-time work from home employees and full-time child care givers. Most of us have slightly upped the screen time for our children…by about three hundred percent! None of us are thrilled about it. We are all doing what we need to do to get by. Just one caveat though; screens emit a lot of blue light which can interfere with the body’s natural circadian rhythm. So, turn them off 2 hours before bedtime and you should be good.
KEEP RINGING THE DINNER BELL
When it comes to mealtimes, again try to remain consistent with the schedule. Few things affect our bodies’ timing like when we eat, so allowing meal and snack times to fluctuate too much can upend your little one’s schedule. Sugary snacks will likely leave them with too much energy come bedtime and the occasional upset tummy, so keep an eye on how much junk food they’re getting into.
With everyone being housebound, your kids are likely going to have a ton of excess energy. Getting outside is a good idea. Sunlight will help maintain the circadian rhythm and a bike ride or even a brisk walk can help reduce feelings of confinement and keep you and your kids from going stir crazy. On stormy days, building a temporary indoor play area out of furniture and cushions can be a great project to keep your kids occupied and provide them with some stuff to climb on too. Or have a dance party or play tag.
EARLY TO BED, EARLY TO RISE
Some of us may be under no obligation to get up for work and school, so we might get to thinking that this is a good opportunity for everybody to catch up on some sleep by turning off the morning alarms. But sticking to the usual bedtimes and wake up times is really important.Predictability and structure are, again, sources of comfort for our kids, so even though there’s no morning alarm, it’s still a good idea to keep things on schedule. Besides, things are eventually going to go back to normal, and we may not know exactly when. Trying to get them back onto their usual schedule all of a sudden is going to be a challenge.You’re better off just sticking to the normal schedule.
DEEP BREATH IN, DEEP BREATH OUT
For older kids, some deep breathing exercises during their bedtime routine can help to settle them down at the end of the day. Try a simple 1, 2, 3 technique. Breath in for 1 second, hold for 2 seconds,breath out for 3 seconds and repeat.
FOCUS ON THE GOOD
Last but not least, try not to watch the news coverage with the kids around. They’re always listening and hearing terms like,“death toll,” and “fatal disease” is going to increase their stress levels.It’s important to stay informed, but do so after they’ve gone to bed. I look forward to getting back to a time when we can discuss less serious things with each other again, and look back at this time as one where we all came together and made the best of a really bad situation. Until then, make the best of it. Who knows. We may end up remembering this time with some fondness for the opportunity it’s given us to reconnect with our kids. I mean, not likely, but it’s possible.
I decided against doing a sleep topic this month like usual. This is such a weird time and I know many of you are adjusting to working from home while simultaneously taking care of your children. NOT an easy task!
So I wanted to share my free Quick Sleep Reference Guide for ages birth-3 years with you to hopefully help your days go a bit smoother! One of the best things you can do to set your child up for good sleep, is to make sure they are on the right schedule for their age. This guide should help make sure they are going down for sleep not OVER or UNDER tired. This will help them fall asleep easier and sleep longer. Save or screenshot the guide so you've got it handy on your phone!
I wholeheartedly believe that while this is a challenging and difficult time for all of us, it is actually an incredible opportunity to work on sleep- whether you do it on your own or with me. Let me preface this by saying that I understand that everyone's situation is unique and there are exceptions to everything. But in general, there will likely never be a time in our lives with less disruptions than right now. And that has always been one of the biggest excuses for not starting some kind of sleep training. Well, if you were ever waiting for a "perfect" time, this is it!
My sleep packages will give you the quickest and most efficient way to meet your sleep goals for your child! But the best part is having my support the entire time. We'll communicate via a walkie-talkie app and you can ask me unlimited questions. A sleep pro in your back pocket! First step is to sign up for a 15-minute call here and you can decide if this is the right path for your family.
Seriously, WHY is DST still a thing?! I truly envy Arizona this time of year. But, nothing we can do about it! Sigh. Daylight Saving Time for Spring Forward is coming up this Sunday March 8th!
Keep in mind that yes there are several ways of doing this and there is no right or wrong. The following is just what I personally feel is easiest. Also, if your child is very well-rested and adjusts easily, you could choose to jump right to the new time cold turkey. Some children are much more sensitive and if that is your child, then you'll want to transition them a little more slowly.
My advice is to “split the difference.”
How does that work? First off, don't worry about changing your clocks on Saturday night. Just get up on Sunday morning like normal and then go around the house changing the clocks. It will FEEL better for everyone this way!
If you have a child that normally goes to bed at 7:00pm, you would put him to bed at 7:30pm on Sunday night, the first night of the time change. Do this for 3 nights, putting him to bed 30 minutes later than normal, then on the 4th night put him to bed at the normal time, 7:00pm or whatever is normal bedtime for your child.
Naps: Same thing. If your child is napping- shift your whole schedule 30 mins later for 3 days and on the 4th night do normal bedtime and on the 5th day do normal nap times.
Infants-If you have a baby that has a predictable bedtime then move bedtime in the following manner until you reach the normal time. So if normal bedtime is 7pm, then the first night you would put him down at 7:45pm, the second night 7:30pm, and so on. In four nights you should be back to 7:00pm. If your baby does not have a predictable bedtime yet then don't worry about it and just get them on the new time as soon as possible.
***If you have an early riser, then this change should actually be great for you! YAY! And it may be best to jump right to the new time!
Your child will take a bit longer to fall asleep at first as it will feel earlier for them but in about a week they should be adjusted to the new time and falling asleep normally. Make sure your child's windows are totally blacked out so they can fall asleep easier and sleep to normal time even though more sun will be coming in the windows!
Good luck, parents!
Stepping away from the sleep-related posts, I’d love to take a minute to discuss another super frustrating parenting topic- food! If you have a toddler, you’ve certainly experienced a refusal to eat the meal you’ve prepared. You both start to get frustrated and eventually you break down and offer them whatever they’re willing to eat, since it’s better than them not eating at all. Or maybe you stick to your guns and refuse to offer up their request but are left worrying about their nutrition and hunger. You don’t want your child to go hungry but you also don’t want to keep giving in and letting them only eat foods that have no nutritional value.
Too much pressure on a toddler to eat this and not eat that can actually set up a resentment towards mealtimes and a bad relationship with food in general that can last well past their toddler years. So what’s the solution here? Well, I’m not a nutritionist but I can share some things I’ve learned from my mentor. And she actually has a great program called Food Sense by the way.
1. Know Your Role. As parents, we tend to see ourselves as the authority figure in the family, but let’s be real for a minute, because when it comes to eating, our ability to enforce the law is limited. We can’t actually force our kids to eat anything they don’t want to, so in the end, they’re the ones with the power here. Your role as the parent isn’t to decide how much of what food your child will eat.You are in charge of purchasing food, preparing meals, and scheduling times for them to eat. How much of it they eat is something you should leave up to your child.
2. Schedule Meal and Snack Times. Toddlers are in that strange growth phase where they’re high-output machines with small fuel tanks,by which I mean they have the energy levels of the Tasmanian Devil, but their tummies are still too small to hold enough food to keep them feeling full for long. So I like to offer 3 meals with a small snack in between. Don’t let them go too long without eating or they are liable to get hangry! You do need to be diligent that there aren’t more snacks offered in addition to this. Too many snacks lead to no appetite for the actual meals that you prepare.
3. Offer Choices. For each meal and snack, I suggest you offer no less than three choices and make sure that they like at least one of them. Hold on! Just hear me out. I’m not suggesting you cook three separate meals every two hours. These choices can be small and simple, just as long as they’re reasonably healthy and have some variety to them. At breakfast, you might put out some peanut butter toast, some sliced banana, and some cheese.Let your little one know that those are the options and they can eat as much or as little as they want of whatever’s in front of them but there will be no other options brought out. Trust me,they can make it a couple hours until the next snack/meal time. And also trust me, they won’t starve if they go to bed a little hungry! My 2 year old has gone to bed many nights after stubbornly eating very little for dinner.
4. Let Your Child Take it From There. Now that you’ve set up a schedule and provided your little one with some options, the rest is up to them. If they decide to eat all of their pasta and none of the veggies, you’ve got to be cool with it. If they eat all of the salad and only one bite of anything else, you’re going to be cool with that too. If they want to put their mashed potatoes on top of their broccoli and eat it with chopsticks, that’s their prerogative. Giving them control over what they eat is going to take a huge amount of stress off of everyone at the table, and it creates a much more positive association with mealtimes and food in general.
5. Be Repetitive. Toddlers have the uncanny ability to make judgments on foods before they’ve even put them near their mouths. Sometimes,they can tell if they like something just by the sound of the word, right? “Asparagus?You mean that vegetable I’ve never tasted, never smelled, never laid eyes on,and never even heard of prior to this very moment? Don’t like it.” Toddlers rarely take to a new food until they’ve gotten familiar with it, first through their eyes, then through smell. It’s not until they’ve developed a level of comfort with it being in front of them that they’re likely to give it a taste,so don’t give up on anything until you’ve presented it at the table at least five times or more. Even if your toddler seems repulsed by it at first, it may just take a little getting used to until they’re willing to take it for a spin.
6. Set an Example. If you’re not serious about food, chances are your toddler won’t be either. I’m not just talking about nutrition here, but about the whole relationship your family has with the preparation and enjoyment of food. If you take the time and make the effort to cook healthy, delicious meals, and make it a priority to enjoy time together, as a family, at the table, that positive vibe is going to shine all over everything food-related in your home.
7. Avoid Negative Labels. I think this is something that we as adults need to embrace as well. We tend to look at foods as “good” or “bad”foods, and which category they fall into is determined almost entirely by their current status. But most dietitians will tell you that most foods can be reasonably healthy, or at least not harmful, if eaten in moderation. Likewise,any food can be unhealthy if you don’t eat anything else. These all-kale diets may help you lose a few pounds, but they’re not providing anyone with adequate nutrition. But more than that, if your kids see you refusing to eat certain foods because they “make you fat” or “aren’t good for you,” they’re likely to associate negative feelings towards food as a whole, and shy away from trying anything unfamiliar.
So the important takeaways here, in case you didn’t have time to read the whole thing, are to set and adhere to a schedule, be patient while your little one’s getting accustomed to the unfamiliar, be predictable and repetitive, lead by example, and create positive associations instead of negative ones. All of which is advice I give my clients about their babies’sleep on pretty much a daily basis, so really, who says we’re drifting out of our lane here? And remember that there will be periods where your toddler has a ferocious appetite and other periods where they may not be growing as much and their appetite is much smaller. That’s okay! The same rules apply, whether it’seating or sleeping. It’s easier and more effective to lead them where we want them to go, rather than forcing them.
No matter if you’re a stay-at-home-mom, a working mom, or somewhere in between, your kids are on your mind 24/7. So, we tend to do a lot of research. And with access to unlimited information via the internet, we tend to get some conflicting information.
So today, I want to focus on my area of expertise, that being sleep, and try to dispel some of the more popular myths I’ve seen.
1. Sleeping too much during the day will keep baby up at night.
If your baby is sleeping poorly, this most likely isn’t the reason. Newborns especially need a ton of sleep. What keeps babies awake at night, more than anything else, is overtiredness. You might think that an exhausted baby is more likely to sack out for a full night than one who slept all day, but it’s actually just the opposite. The reason we refer to it as being “overtired” is because baby has missed the “tired” phase and their bodies start to kick back into gear, which keeps them from falling and staying asleep. There are substantial variations depending on baby’s age and the length of their naps, but especially in those first 6 months, they do need to sleep quite a bit during the day!
2. Sleeping is a natural development and can’t be taught.
Sleeping is natural, absolutely. Everybody wakes up and falls back to sleep multiple times a night, regardless of their age. So no, you can’t teach a child to be sleepy. What can be taught,however, is the ability to fall back to sleep independently. The typical “bad sleeper” of a baby isn’t less in need of sleep, or more prone to waking up. They’ve just learned to depend on outside assistance to get back to sleep when they wake up. Once your little one has figured out how to get to sleep without assistance from outside sources, they start stringing those sleep cycles together effortlessly and seamlessly, and that’s the secret to “sleeping through the night”.
3. Babies will naturally dictate their own sleep schedule
Sorry, but infant physiology is not flawlessly programmed to regulate a baby’s schedule. Our babies need extensive care and help in their development, and their sleep cycles are unbelievably erratic if left unregulated. If they miss their natural sleep cycle by as little as a half hour, their cortisol production can increase which causes a surge in energy, and things quickly spiral out of control. So as much as I wish babies could just fall asleep when they’re tired, it simply doesn’t always work that way. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t respond to their cues, but you shouldn’t rely exclusively on them either.
4. Sleep training is stressful for the baby and can affect the parent-child attachment
Nope. And this isn’t just me talking here. This is the American Academy of Pediatrics. According to a 2016 study conducted by eight of their top researchers, behavioral intervention,(A.K.A Sleep training) “provide(s) significant sleep benefits above control,yet convey(s) no adverse stress responses or long-term effects on parent-child attachment or child emotions and behavior.”
5. Babies are not “designed” to sleep through the night.
Trusting your child’s physiology to dictate their sleep schedule, their eating habits, their behavior, or just about any other aspect of their upbringing is a recipe for disaster. Is your toddler designed to eat three pounds of gummi bears? No. Will they if you don’t intervene? Without a doubt. Our little ones need our expertise and authority to guide them through their early years, and probably will for decades after that.This is especially true when it comes to their sleep. Some babies are naturally gifted sleepers, for sure, but don’t rely on the advice of those who tell you that babies should dictate their schedules. You’re in charge because you know best, even if it may not feel like it sometimes.
There are lots more myths and misconceptions surrounding babies and their sleep habits, but these are some of the most important to get the facts on. Remember, there are endless posts on social media and websites that portray themselves as factual, but there’s nothing stopping them from making that claim, regardless of their accuracy or basis in actual scientific evidence. Google scholar is a great place to find peer-reviewed scientific study on all things baby-related, and trusted sources like the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Institutes of Health,Britain’s National Health Service, Canada’s Hospital for Sick Children, the World Health Organization, and other national children’s health organizations are excellent sources of information you can feel confident about using to answer questions about your baby.
“Mom, I’m scared.”
Fear of the dark usually starts to show up around the 2-yearmark. As toddler’s minds mature, their memory gets longer and their imaginationdevelops. They’ve almost certainly taken a spill on the playground or had somekind of traumatic incident by this point, so they’re aware that there arethings out there that can hurt them. They’ve also probably seen a few movies orbeen read a few books that touch on a couple of spooky elements, even ifthey’re geared towards children.
As adults, we’re experienced enough to recognize that thedark isn’t inherently dangerous. But for a toddler, there’s no history to drawon to assure them that they’re safe and secure after the lights go out. So myfirst, and most important, piece of advice when you’re addressing your little one’sfear of the dark is this…don’t dismiss it completely!
This can be a little tricky navigate. On the one hand, weabsolutely want to show empathy and understanding when something frightens ourkids. On the other, we don’t want to add fuel to the fire.
This is why I’m not a big fan of “monster repellent” ornightly closet checks. When we look in their closet and tell them, “Nope! Nomonsters here! Not that I noticed, anyway, so you’re all good,” it’s not nearlyas soothing as you might think. It’s easy to see how they could interpret thatas, “Yeah, there’s absolutely such a thing as monsters, they’re scary as heck,and they do tend to live in kids’ closets, but I don’t see one in there at themoment, so... ya know. Sleep tight!”
So that covers what I consider to be the wrong way to handlethe situation. How about some advice on the right one? As I was saying earlier,dismissing your little one’s fears as irrational isn’t all that helpful, so asksome questions when they express a fear of the dark. Digging into their concernsis helpful in a couple of ways. It lets them know that you’re taking themseriously, which is very reassuring. It also helps you to assess what it isabout the darkness that frightens them and helps you to address it.
For example, if they tell you they’re seeing things movingaround their room, it might be caused by shadows. Headlights from cars drivingby can often shine enough light through curtains or blinds to throw shadowsacross the room. In that situation, a nightlight or some blackout blinds canprove to be a quick, effective solution.
(Tip: If you’re going to use a nightlight, make sure it’s awarm color (preferably red). Blue lights may look soothing but they stimulatecortisol production, which is the last thing we want at bedtime.)
If they share that they are scared of a monster, then you mayreassure them that monsters are not real. They are only in books and movies and then you can be more cautiousabout the media that they are exposed to.
Now, toddlers aren’t the best at verbalizing things, but you’reshowing genuine concern, and that goes a long way here!
For a lot of toddlers, bedtime is the only time of the daythat they’re left alone. They’re either playing with friends, hanging close totheir parents, or supervised in some way, shape, or form by a grown-up. Bedtimeis also the only time they’re exposed to darkness, so you can see how the twothings together could easily cause some anxiety.
So the obvious (and super fun!) way to ease some of thatapprehension is to spend some time together in the dark. Reading books under ablanket with a dim flashlight is a great activity. Some hide and seek with thelights out is tons of fun as well. Playing with a flashlight to create shadow animals on the wall is funtoo. Quiet time alone in their room (with the lights on) during the day is alsogood. We just want to create somepositive associations.
This isn’t likely to be an overnight fix, but stayrespectful, stay calm, and stay consistent. After your little one’s fears havebeen addressed and they’ve learned that the darkness is more fun thanfrightening, they will begin to gain confidence around going to sleep.
One last little tip, turning down the lights gradually asyour little one’s bedtime approaches is a good way to ease them into a darksetting, and also helps to stimulate melatonin production, which will help themget to sleep easier. Two birds, one stone.
Daylight Saving Time for Fall Back is coming up Sunday, November 3rd! Young children are much more structured with going to bed and waking at the same time each day so that's why we notice the effects of DST the most in children. With Fall Back, you might see some early morning wakings. So here is my best advice for having a smoother transition!
My advice is to “split the difference.”
For “Fall Back,” my recommendation to all parents is just to leave the clocks alone so it’s not so upsetting to see your little one up an hour earlier. Just get up at your usual time and start the day. After you wake up and have a bit of breakfast, then you can go around changing the clocks. It will feel much better this way, trust me! If, for example, your little one usually takes a morning nap around 9:30, you will adjust this to 9:00 for the three days after the time change. It will be a bit of a push for your child, but not so much that it will cause much damage to her schedule. Do the same for the afternoon nap. Let’s say your child usually goes to bed at 7 p.m. I recommend putting that child to bed at 6:30 p.m. for the first three days following the time change. (This will FEEL like 7:30 to your child.) And it will take about a week for your child’s body to get used to this. It takes everybody’s body roughly one week to adjust any kind of change in sleeping habits.
If you have children over the age of two, you can use an okay to wake clock. Just set the clock forward half an hour so that at 6:30 it says 7:00 and let them get up a little earlier than normal the first few days but not a whole hour earlier, knowing that, by the end of the week,they will be back on track and sleep until their normal wake up time.
If you are dealing with a baby, you cannot do that.Try not to rush in as soon as your baby wakes up. Give about 10 mins or so.Then the next day wait a little longer and so on. By the end of the week your baby’s schedule should be adjusted to the new time and they should be waking up closer to their usual hour.
On the fourth night, just get in line with the new time so your child is back to going to bed when the clock says 7:00 pm. Adjust naps to the correct time on day 4 as well.
Clear as mud? Hope this helps you have an easier transition this year!
Are any of my friends traveling to a new time zone with kiddos?
Before you set out, I want to make sure you’re armed with some helpful information regarding sleep. So how do we maintain good sleep habits while we’re traveling? If we’re crossing time zones, how do we deal with the inevitable complication of jet lag?
1. Avoid the Red-Eye
This almost never works out well for a young child.
2. Travel Prepared
This is one of those times when it’s OK to give in to their demands. Be sure to pack your carry-on to the brim with toys, healthy snacks, books, gum, and portable battery chargers. Nursing or bottle feeding on take-off and landing can be helpful for the ears. Also be sure you keep your toddlers hydrated!
3. Should you adjust the sleep schedule to the new time zone?
If you’re traveling for less than five days, it’s probably not worth making adjustments to the new time zone. Experts say that jet lag lasts, on average, for about a day for every hour of time change, so if you’re taking a four day trip and you’re looking at a six-hour time change, it’s hardly worth getting baby fully adjusted to the difference just to turn around and have to do it all over again once you get home. If, however, you’re going to be gone for longer than five days, then you’ll want to adjust to the new time zone as quickly as possible. So yes, night one, straight into the new time zone. It might not be a seamless transition, but we’ll work on that.
4. Stick to your bedtime routine.
A predictable bedtime routine sends signals to the brain that sleep is just over the horizon, so the brain starts preparing for it by firing up the melatonin production, relaxing the muscles, and slowing down mental activity. And black out any external light sources two hours before baby’s bedtime. If that means putting garbage bags over the windows with masking tape, then come prepared and do it!
5. Sunlight’s on your side.
As much as we don’t want any sunlight getting in the room while baby’s trying to sleep, we want lots of it when they’re awake. Getting a significant amount of sunlight during the day charges up our melatonin production and helps get the circadian rhythm adjusted quickly to the new time zone, so getting outdoors during the day will work wonders in helping baby sleep well at night.
6. Add an extra nap
After a long flight, an extra cat nap can do wonders for a baby. Just remember to leave enough space between waking up from her last nap and bedtime so that there’s time for fatigue to build up in the interim.
7. Keep things familiar
Remember to pack child’s favorite PJs, lovie, sleep sack, pillow, and so on. Once your little one is asleep, it will help them to stay that way if their surroundings are similar to the ones they’re used to. And if you don’t usually share a bed with your little one, don’t start now. Let me just repeat that. Do not bed share while you’re traveling unless you want to bed share when you get home as well. Children get attached to this scenario in the blink of an eye. Many hotels have cribs available.
Know that traveling is exhausting and we all get short-tempered when we’re tired, so be patient with your little one and enjoy your trip!
A couple years ago, pre sleep-consultant days, I literally posted on my personal Facebook page that bedtime by myself with a toddler and a nursing newborn was no joke. Send help!
Trying to juggle two, three, or more bedtime routines can be absolutely stressful. Trying to find fifteen minutes to breastfeed your newborn at the same time you’re trying to get your toddler out of the bath can drive you crazy. And toddlers…they just know that you’re in a position where you’re unable to chase them down and enforce the law! So today, I have some tips for all of you who have two or three balls in the air and are struggling to find a bedtime groove.
1. If you can, have one bedtime for all the kids in the house. A lot of parents I work with are surprised when I suggest that their 3 year-olds should be going to bed at 7:00 at night (assuming they don’t nap).Even at that age, kids still need between 10-12 hours of sleep a night.
2. Team up and switch off if you can. If you’re among the lucky ones who has a partner who’s home and available to help you get the kids to bed, put together a list of what needs to get done, split the tasks evenly, and then switch off every other night. That will prevent either of you from feeling like you’ve got the short end of the stick and it also gets your kids accustomed to either parent putting them to bed.
3. Find opportunities to multitask. Let the kids take a bath together, feed your newborn while you read your toddler a bedtime story,sing songs together while you change baby’s diaper, and so on. Wherever you can overlap, milk that opportunity for all it’s worth.
4. Meticulously craft and adhere to a 15-30 minute bedtime routine. Bedtime routines are absolutely vital to getting your kids sleeping through the night but they don’t need to last a long time. It’s not just a great way of keeping them on task, but it also serves as a signal to their brains and bodies that bedtime is approaching which stimulates melatonin production and dials things down internally to prepare for a good night’s sleep. A bath is a great place to start.
5. Save a special activity for bedtime. Typically it will be the older child who’s capable of entertaining themselves for a little while as you’re busy finishing up with your youngest. Come up with a non-screen-related activity that will keep your toddler entertained and quiet, and make it exclusive to that fifteen minutes or so that you need one-on-one time to put the baby down. Don’t make it too stimulating though. A special coloring book is a great option.
6. Exploit child labor. Toddlers love structure and predictability, so giving them a helper position when you’re putting your younger child to bed is a great way to keep them occupied and give them a feeling of accomplishment just before they head to bed. Show them where the diapers are stored and have them bring you the goods as you’re getting your baby for bedtime.
7. Stick to your guns. Toddlers test boundaries,always. You might feel guilty now that you are splitting your time between them and a newborn, but changing or bending the rules is likely to upset them more,not less. Kids thrive on predictability and structure. If they suddenly get the feeling like the fences are down, they typically feel a little lost and that’s going to lead to more tantrums, not fewer. So keep the routine and the expectations as close as possible to the way they were before their sibling arrived.
8. No matter how bad it gets, don’t let your toddler watch Doc McStuffins right before bed. I know how quickly and effectively putting your child in front of the TV or handing them your phone can buy you a few minutes of peace and quiet, but screens are the ultimate sleep stealer. Because the entire time that they’re holding your child’s attention, they’re flooding their eyes with blue light. That blue light stimulates cortisol production and inhibits melatonin, so those fifteen minutes of peace and quiet could very easily cost you hours of trying to get your overtired child to settle down for the night.
9. Accept the fact that it’s not always going to go smoothly. These are young children we’re dealing with, so if things start to go off the rails a bit, don’t look at it as a failure. They’re going to have regressions, tough nights, and the occasional meltdown, but staying calm and level-headed is the best thing you can do to avoid escalating those situations.
10. Embrace the peace and quiet. Once you’ve got everyone in bed, take at least five or ten minutes to just let yourself unwind.Parenting is hard. Pat yourself on the back for the task you just completed.
And as always, I'm here if you need to bring in reinforcements! Schedule a call with me from the home page and find out if working with me to get your child sleeping through the night would be the right solution for your family!
As a mother and sleep consultant, spending so much time observing and hearing about young kids, I’ve come to the conclusion that children,as a rule, are complicated beings!
A baby’s basic needs essentially break down into eating,sleeping, and pooping, and their only real form of communicating an issue with any of those things is through crying. But as any parent knows, identifying the fact that there is a problem is much easier than actually solving the problem.
Now, if you’re the parent of a baby who’s learning to crawl,or just figured out how to roll over, or is learning to talk, this may come as the least surprising scientific discovery imaginable, but developmental milestones are likely to cause disruptions in a baby’s sleep. More night wakings and periods of increased long wake episodes are often manifested at the onset of reaching new milestones. So, let’s look at language and movement skills and WHY they might be responsible for some more frequent nighttime wakeups.
Much like the rest of us, babies get excited when they start to learn a new skill. They get a thrill out of this newfound ability and they are going to practice it over and over. In the morning, in the afternoon, and when they wake up in the middle of the night, and that excitement is going to make it a little more difficult for them to get back to sleep.
The reason I wanted to talk about this is because I see a lot of parents looking for a “solution” in this scenario, and in trying to get their baby’s sleep back on track, they tend to lose consistency. They’ll move bedtimes around, start rocking or feeding baby back to sleep, change up the bedtime routine, anything they think might help. But the best advice I can give you is to hold steady. You’re probably going to have to go in and comfort your baby a little more often during this period, and you’ll have to help get them out of the uncomfortable positions they manage to get themselves into, and you’ll likely have some frustrating nights where your little one will drive you a little bananas with their babbling. And although you can’t fix the situation,you can make things easier for yourself once the regression is over.
Adopting a bunch of quick-fixes in order to get your baby sleeping quickly when they wake up at night is likely to end up creating dependencies that will last long past the development of the new skill. So don’t give in to the temptation to go back to or introduce a sleep crutch.Offer them some comfort, tell them it’s still bedtime, help them get back into a comfortable position if they’ve gotten themselves pushed up against the side of the crib, or roll them onto their backs if they’ve flipped, but try let them get back to sleep on their own. That way, once they’ve got this new skill mastered, they’ll still have the ability to self-soothe when they wake up at night.
It’s likely to be a bit of a challenge, but hang in there. Stay consistent and you can expect even more of those glorious sleep-filled nights once the storm has passed.
And know that I'm here if you get way off track and need a little help in getting your child sleeping beautifully again!
I get it. I really do. After all, I’m a mom myself. There’s just something so beautiful about sleeping next to your baby, that it almost seems crazy not to. Or at least that’s how some of you may have felt up until the first week or two of co-sleeping. Then it was more like, “Listen, I love you, you love me. But I can’t sleep next to someone who resembles a drunk octopus.”
I have plenty of friends who co-sleep and who swear by it. Power to them. I do want you to educate yourself on the risks from a safety standpoint but the decision is ultimately yours of course. But I’ve spoken to more than a few parents who are big on co-sleeping but are still being woken up by feet in their face or thumbs in their eyes several times a night and want to know if sleep training will get their little ones to stop squirming or waking up fifteen times a night to nurse. Which, for the record, your 18-month-old does not need to do. I really wish I had a more satisfying answer for those parents because I really do sympathize.I understand wanting to have your cake and eat it too. Sleep next to your baby but have them not wake you up repeatedly through the night. That would be magical, no question.
Unfortunately, it’s not really all that likely for a couple of reasons. One, toddlers are often very active sleepers. It’s just a fact.They twist and turn and readjust themselves a thousand times a night and will often end up completely on the other side of the bed with their feet towards the headboard. Two, your baby thinks you’re just the greatest. When they wake up in the night and see you lying next to them, they get excited. They want you to interact with them so they try to engage with you. They see you and know that your mama’s milk is comforting and they’ll have to do very little work to go back to sleep. So why can’t sleep training alleviate this? Simply put, because it’s not a sedative. Sleep training is all about teaching your baby the skills to fall back to sleep on their own when they wake up in the night. That’s a slight simplification, but at its core, that’s what we’redoing. We’re not doing anything that will get your baby to fall into stage 3 sleep and stay there for a solid 11 hours. That’s a job for Ambien, and there are obvious reasons why we’re not going down that road!
So while it’s possible that you could see some success in your child’s sleep habits by teaching them to fall back to sleep without your help, you’re not likely to see the same kind of results you will if you get them sleeping in their own bed, in their own room, without any distractions.For those of you who are leery about giving up those nighttime cuddles, I have a suggestion that might help. Set aside 15 minutes every morning, after your kids are out of bed and well-rested, and bring them into your bed. Cuddle them,play with them, sing some songs, whatever their hearts desire. You can both still enjoy the closeness and familial bond that comes with sharing a bed without waking each other up all night long. If you’ve already been co-sleeping for quite a while and have decided it’s time to reclaim your bedroom, but your little one has other ideas, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ve worked with families to get them through this exact scenario with great success and I can help yours too.
It’s always exciting when the time comes to ditch those diapers! However, it gets a little tricky when it comes to nighttime so I want to give you some of my personal tips and thoughts on the topic. Obviously I believe in the importance of sleep and for this reason, I hate to see children's sleep being disrupted by having to use the potty at night. They have their whole adult lives to deal with that! ;)
At whatever age you begin potty training, chances are your child won’t be able to go all night without needing to use the bathroom. And it’s typically just a matter of waiting until your child’s bladder is mature enough to do so. For many children, that time does not come until close to age 4. For this reason, I recommend you go diaper free during the day but plan to continue using diapers or pull ups during the night. Children are good at compartmentalizing and should be able to understand that at night they use the diaper and during the day they use the potty. It's even a good idea to start calling them "sleeping underwear" as a way to differentiate night from day.
You can definitely try limiting fluids in the couple of hours before bed to see if this helps overnight and be sure to take your child to the bathroom as soon as they wake up in the morning.
Your toddler may use going potty as a stall tactic or an excuse to begin getting out of bed at night. Offer a trip to the potty at the beginning and end of the bedtime routine but after that, there should be no more trips to the potty.
Lastly, some children may be capable of going all night without going potty, but may simply be getting lazy and using the diaper when they wake up in the morning. You may want to test this theory by ditching the diaper at night and using a sticker or reward chart as motivation. Encourage independent potty use during the daytime. And if you use an okay-to-wake clock, you can let your child have 1 “potty pass” so they know they are allowed to use the bathroom if they need to first thing in the morning even if their clock isn’t on quite yet. Then they need to return to their bed and you should enforce this.
No matter what, you know your child and what their needs are. Just try to be conscious of what it may do to their sleep habits and really try to protect that! If you are concerned about how long it is taking for your child to stop going potty in the night, talk to their doctor.
If your toddler's sleep is already disrupted because they aren't sleeping through the night then I'd love to help you get this figured out! I hate to see parents waiting years and years for their child to magically sleep through when it's a problem that can be fixed NOW! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For many parents, getting their baby to sleep through the night is a life-changing event. I know it certainly was for me. Waking up every hour or two to the sounds of a crying baby was absolutely exhausting. So needless to say, when I finally started sleep training and my baby learned to sleep through the night without any help from me, it felt like nothing short of a miracle.
To tell you the truth though, I’m starting to get a bit nervous. Trent is now a walking, talking,climbing toddler who is completely capable of getting out of his crib (although he hasn’t done it yet). I’m just waiting for the day he decides to put that skill to use. Now he also has the ability to use stall and negotiation tactics. Toddlers are just a whole other ball game! It’s human nature for them to test behaviors and actions to see if they get them what they’re after, and when they find something that works, they tend to use it repeatedly. So if asking for a glass of water gets mom back into the room, or asking to use the bathroom helps to satisfy their curiosity about what’s going on outside of their room after hours, they’re likely to use the same approach every time. That can be a comforting fact to keep in your mind when you’re walking your child back to their room for the fifteenth time since you sat down to watch your favorite show.
Now, bearing in mind that yelling is just going to upset everyone, and that giving in will just encourage more of the same behavior, how do we get a toddler to stay in their room without letting the situation escalate? Consequences, mama. Consequences are the key. I should start off hereby saying that I think it’s only fair to always give a warning before implementing a consequence for unwanted behavior. If your child leaves their room, ask them why they’re not in bed. Assuming the answer isn’t because they’re not feeling well, then you can calmly but firmly tell them that they’re not allowed out of their room until morning. Walk them back to bed, say goodnight, give them a quick smooch, and let them know that there will be a consequence if they leave their room again. Hopefully, that does the trick.More than likely though, it won’t. When they show up in the living room again,saying that they forgot to tell you something, or that they can’t find their lovey (which is, probably in their hand as they say this) it’s time to implement that consequence.
Now we get to the big question, right? What’s the consequence? All kids are different and you may have to get creative about what will work for yours. I’ve had a lot of parents express that they don’t want to do anything to upset their child. I totally understand this line of thinking, but really, what is a consequence if it’s not something unpleasant? The trick here is to find a balance between something that your child doesn’t mind and something that really throws them into a tailspin, because we don’t want to traumatize anyone here. We’re just looking for something unpleasant enough to dissuade the behavior. Understanding that every child is different and that nothing works for everyone, I do have a simple trick that I’ve found to be incredibly effective in this situation, and it’s as simple as closing a door. In fact, that’s the trick. Close the bedroom door. There’s something about having the bedroom door closed all the way until it latches that toddlers really seem to dislike. You don’t have to do it for long. Just a minute for the first offence, then bump it up by thirty seconds or so every time your toddler leaves their room that night. Like I said, this is a form of consequence and if your child doesn’t like it, well, that’s kind of the point, right? Before too long, they should start to recognize the negative consequences of leaving their room, and they’ll stay in bed unless they have an actual issue.
That covers the night, but what about the morning? We’ve all gotten that surprise visit from our little ones at 5:15 AM, asking us if it’s morning yet, and you really can’t hold that against them. Chances are that they legitimately woke up and didn’t know if it was time to get out of bed or not. Your saving grace here is an ok-to-wake clock. There are tons of options on Amazon and they range from about $25 to $50. These sweet little gadgets give your child a visual representation of when it’s morning. Just stay away from any that shine blue light, as it simulates sunlight, which can make it tougher to get back to sleep.
Consistency is key here guys. You absolutely have to stick to your guns once you’ve given the warning. Be patient, be calm, but be firm and predictable. Once they realize that you’re not giving in, you’ll be free to break out the good snacks and turn on the TV without fear of being discovered.
Even the best of sleepers often begin protesting nap time around this age. Here are my tips for preserving nap time a bit longer! Cuz heaven knows our sanity depends on it!
*Don't underestimate the power of physical activity. Getting outside in the late morning for rigorous activity is really important! Or do something active indoors if weather is not permitting.
*Have a great routine. In our house we do lunch at noon and then get cleaned up from lunch, change diaper, get a drink, sing our song, kisses, and light's out.
*Light's out means that the room should be 100% dark! Don't underestimate this either! Get black out coverings or good blinds with good black out curtains on top. I can't stress it enough.
*Avoid screens. I know lots of families that like to turn on a show in the morning but just don't let it stay on all day. Get it shut off a couple hours before nap time.
*Don't give up! Consistently put your child down for that nap and even if they don't fall asleep then they've at least had an hour of "rest time" in the afternoon. If they refuse the nap, you can always move bedtime an hour earlier. There is a good chance your toddler will begin napping again soon if you keep offering it.
Naps are typically dropped between ages 3-5 yrs but there are some exceptions.
If your toddler still depends on a sleep prop or crutch to fall asleep such as a pacifier or a bottle or your presence then this may be your issue and that's a whole other matter! Contact me if you want to chat about your kiddo learning some independent sleep skills!
Daylight Saving Time for Spring Forward is coming up Sunday March 10th, 2019! Young children are much more structured with going to bed and waking at the same time each day so that's why we notice the effects of DST the most in children. So here is my best advice for having a smoother transition!
My advice is to “split the difference.”
How does that work? First off, don't worry about changing your clocks on Saturday night. Just get up on Sunday morning like normal and then go around the house changing the clocks. It will FEEL better for everyone this way!
If you have a child that does not nap and normally goes to bed at 7:00pm, you would put him to bed at 7:30pm on Sunday night, the first night of the time change. Do this for 3 nights, putting him to bed 30 minutes later than normal, then on the 4th night put him to bed at the normal time, 7:00pm or whatever is normal bedtime for your child.
Same goes for naps if your child is napping- shift your whole schedule 30 mins later for 3 days and on the 4th night do normal bedtime and on the 5th day do normal nap times.
Infants-If you have a baby that has a predictable bedtime then move bedtime 15 minutes earlier each night until you reach the normal time. So if normal bedtime is 7pm, then the first night you would put him down at 7:45pm, the second night 7:30pm, and so on. In four nights you should be back to 7:00pm. If your baby does not have a predictable bedtime yet then don't worry about it and just get them on the new time as soon as possible.
Your child will take a bit longer to fall asleep at first as it will feel earlier for them but in about a week they should be adjusted to the new time and falling asleep normally. Make sure your child's windows are totally blacked out so they can fall asleep easier and sleep to normal time even though more sun will be coming in the windows! Good Luck!
Does your child frequently snore or mouth-breathe? I don’t want to cause any paranoia here but if this is your child, it may be cause for concern so please read on. If there is a physical reason for your child’s sleep difficulties then I’d much rather you get that checked out first before we work on any behavioral sleep issues.
Now, anyone who has ever dabbled in yoga or trained for an athletic challenge of any kind will tell you that proper breathing has incredible benefits, and that proper breathing, by definition, is done through the nose. There are a few reasons why nose-breathing is better for you than mouth-breathing, and they’re not minor benefits. Breathing through your nose increases the amount of oxygen we get to our lungs, expels more carbon dioxide, lowers our heart rate, increases lymphatic flow, and reduces stress on the heart.
Mouth breathing, on the other hand, has some pretty nasty downsides. Long-term, chronic mouth breathing in children can actually affect their facial growth, mess with their teeth, cause gum disease, throat infections, stunted growth, and a little closer to my heart, lack of quality sleep.
As you probably already know, we all sleep in cycles. We go from a very light sleep into deeper sleep, then deeper still, and then into the dreaming stage known commonly as REM sleep. During that first stage of light sleep, as well as in the REM stage, we’re very easily woken up. And what causes baby to wake up in those light stages of sleep? Often times, noise. Barking dog, garbage truck, washing machine getting thrown off balance during the spin cycle, and sometimes, the sound of their own snoring. That’s not the only reason for waking up, mind you. If their airway is obstructed to the point where they temporarily stop breathing, what’s known as an obstructive apnea, the body tends to startle itself out of sleep. (And I’m sure we’re all happy for that little fail-safe, even if it does lead to nighttime wake ups.) Now, I could rehash all the things I’ve said before in my blog posts about the benefits of solid, consolidated sleep, as well as the detriments of sleep deprivation, but I’ll leave it to the National Institutes of Health and their extensive study on the subject if you want a refresher. Suffice it to say, your baby needs a lot of sleep, and it’s bad for them in a whole lot of ways if they don’t get it.
So if your baby is snoring, you should absolutely take action. The first thing you should do is grab your phone and make a recording of your little one breathing while they sleep. The second step is to take that recording to your pediatrician and play it for them. Just going to the doctor and telling them your baby’s snoring might not spark a lot of concern on their part, but being able to demonstrate the severity of the issue can light a little fire under them and prompt them to refer you to a respiratory specialist. Removal of the tonsils and/or adenoids is often the next logical step if their airways are significantly blocked. If your little one’s snoring isn’t severe enough to warrant surgery, however, the doctor will probably have some suggestions that are less invasive. Just a final note to add here. If your baby is sick or congested, don’t jump to the conclusion that their snoring is permanent. A little nasal congestion due to illness can cause baby to snore, but it should clear up when they get better.
No breathing issues or they aren't severe and your child isn't sleeping? Set up a call with me so we can get your family sleeping through the night!
One of the most interesting aspects of my job is that I get to work so closely with such a wide variety of people and personalities. Coming into people’s lives, especially at a time when they’re vulnerable and emotional, has allowed me to get to know a lot of different families. One thing that seems to remain somewhat constant though, is that there’s usually one parent who I would define as the primary caregiver when it comes to sleep and one that is secondary. I’ve seen all kinds of family dynamics and divisions of labor but let’s not kid each other, sleep training is a tough gig that no parent is excited to tackle alone. You’re obviously sleep deprived by the time you decide you need to take action, and you have a few nights ahead of you that are probably going to test your patience and determination, and if only one person is involved, it’s going to be that much more of a challenge.
So, I write this post to you today, dear secondary caregiver. If you’re feeling left out of the child-rearing process and wishing you had more of an opportunity to bond with your baby and take some of the parenting stress off of your partner’s shoulders, this is your moment! And let me tell you something... nothing is going to solidify your place in your partner’s heart quite like taking a leading role in getting your child sleeping through the night. I am not even slightly exaggerating here. If you’re reading this, I would guess there’s a decent chance you’re already feeling the effects of at least a few nights of sleep deprivation, so you don’t need to be told how serious the effects really are. The thought of months or even years of this seems like an impossible situation, and your partner undoubtedly feels the same way. So let me tell you,there is just nothing sexier than waking up exhausted in the middle of the night and seeing your partner already getting out of bed, telling you to lie down and go back to sleep, with those three magic words... “I got this.” 😉 Is it easy? No, not particularly. Sleep training can be challenging. There’s likely to be some crying, some moments of doubt, and a few trying nights, but everyone I’ve guided through the process would do it all over again in a heartbeat now that they’ve got their child sleeping through the night.
So now that you’re ready to take the reins on this, I’d like to speak to the primary caregiver again. So check this out, you lucky duck.Your partner is awesome! They totally recognize your efforts in raising your child and want to pull a little extra weight. They want to take an active role in helping you get your baby sleeping through the night. So congratulations on your excellent choice in a partner. So what’s the catch? Well, you have one very simple but difficult task here. You have to let them do it. As the chair of the parenting department, that might be difficult. You’re probably used to having the veto power when it comes to baby-centered decisions, but I want you to relinquish that for a while. Sleep training requires consistency, and you and your partner should have a well-established plan that you’re both comfortable with. So resist the urge to hover over your partner. It’s vital that they know you’re confident in their parenting abilities. Micromanaging someone else’s parenting is likely to result in them just throwing their hands up and saying,“Fine, you do it.” Then you’re on your own again and your partner probably ends up harboring a hint of resentment. Also, and don’t take this the wrong way, but I find that when it comes to sleep training, it’s way more common that the secondary care giver has more success calming baby at night than the primary one. Yep, you read that right. I have a few theories on why this is so often the case, but for now, just know that your chances of success are drastically improved if you let your partner respond to baby during the night. Don’t undervalue what you’ve got here. This is someone with a deep and genuine love for your child who’s available and eager to help you with one of the most daunting challenges of early parenting, and they’re willing to do it for nothing! So be cool. Let your partner do their thing. You might be very pleasantly surprised at the results they get!
So now bring your partner back into the room, would you? I want to talk to both of you together here. Listen, what you’re about to do is really going to do amazing things for your little family unit. You’re going to get your baby sleeping through the night, which means you’ll both be sleeping through the night again, but you’re also committing to doing it together, and that’s going to make this endeavor even sweeter. You’re going to learn how supportive you can both be in some tough moments, how much stronger the two of you make each other, and how unstoppable you are when you parent as a team.You’re tackling a problem together, and I think you should both be very proud of that. I hope it goes smoothly but just remember if it doesn’t, I’m always here to help. Two parents presenting a united front is a mighty force, but those same parents armed with an expert to help them through this process, well that’s practically unstoppable.
What is it about you having a lousy night’s sleep that makes everyone else around us seem so awful? You have a night of broken, interrupted, just plain bad sleep, and the next day people are driving like idiots and asking you the same stupid question at work that you’ve already answered half a dozen times. Seriously, is the universe just messing with you? Maybe. But a more likely explanation is that your lack of sleep is making it impossible for you to react rationally to frustrating situations. Researchers from the University of Arizona released a study back in 2006 that showed people who were deprived of sleep over a 55 hour period had:
• An increased tendency to blame others for problems
• Reduced willingness to alleviate a conflict situation by accepting blame
• Increased aggression
• Lower willingness to behave in ways that facilitate effective social interaction
I know this might not seem like especially earth-shattering news, but it speaks to a broader point. So let’s imagine that you and your partner are the proud parents of a new baby which means you have to make a zillion decisions about parenting and come to agreements with your partner.
How SLEEP DEPRIVATION Affects Your Relationship
What time should we put him to bed? What do we do when he starts crying? Who is handling night wakings? Are we going to breastfeed? Are we able to? How will we discipline? Those are all questions that need to be agreed upon and then reevaluated if things aren’t going smoothly. So here you are, faced with all of these decisions, you’re frustrated because things aren’t going smoothly to begin with, and to top it all off, your ability to recognize and respond to each other in a rational, civilized manner has been seriously compromised. Two people forced to debate the most important decisions they’re likely to make in their lives, and you are doing it while sleep deprived. On top of that, couples who don’t get enough sleep are less likely to show gratitude towards each other, and significantly more likely to feel unappreciated, according to Amie Gordon, a doctorate candidate in social-personality psychology at UC Berkeley. And as though that’s not enough, consider the fact that lack of sleep decreases libido. Yikes. Now, loads of couples get through this period in their lives with their partnership intact, and I’m not trying to suggest that sleep deprivation is going to be the end of your relationship but it certainly doesn’t help.
Babies are amazing though, right? What can possibly compare with those first few months when you and your partner stand over the crib together and look down on that precious new life that the two of you created together? The closeness you feel to your partner at that time is unmatched, and it’s a period in your life that deserves to be cherished. That’s not so easy to do if you and your partner are constantly fighting because neither of you are getting enough sleep. There are so many reasons to make your little one’s sleep a priority when it comes to their well-being, but I’d ask you to take a selfish little detour for a moment and consider what it can mean for you, your partner, and your relationship. After all, if there’s one gift your kids always appreciate, it’s seeing their parents happy, united, and in love.
Commit to getting your little one sleeping through the night and see how you feel once you’re all getting the rest you need. The results, I promise you, are nothing short of amazing.
I remember the night our daughter climbed out of her crib for the first time. She was just barely 2 years old and she showed up in our bed in the middle of the night that night. I about had a heart attack! Our girl is a pretty skilled climber so I wasn't terribly worried about her injuring herself, but the chance is always there. Not knowing any better, we thought our only option was to switch to a toddler bed straight away. Aaaaddd....surprise! It didn't go well. If this is a familiar situation to you, here are some tips before making that switch to a big kid bed!
My recommendation is to wait until as close to age 3 as possible to make the switch. Most children under this age are just not capable of handling the freedom.
1. Evaluate how skillfully they are climbing. Obviously if they are diving out of their
crib head first, you have to do something about it right away. But if they are not
hurting themselves, then you can try calmly returning them to the crib and
explaining that they are not allowed to get out. Do this 3 or 4 times and if they
continue, then return them to their crib without saying anything. Many kids enjoy
any attention at all even if it is negative, so when you don’t react, the game is no
2. Does your crib have a short side and a tall side? Flip the crib around so that the
short side is against a wall. The tall side is often tall enough that the child can’t
3. Take the bottom of the crib out so that the mattress is literally on the floor. Make
sure this is a safe set up with your particular crib. There should be no space
between the mattress and the bottom of the crib. This can make enough of a
difference that your child can no longer climb out.
4. Use a sleep sack or “crib pants”. Get a large sleep sack and put it on backwards
so your toddler can’t unzip it. You can make your own “crib pants” by sewing a
small piece of fabric between the legs of your child’s pajamas. This should make
it too difficult for your child to climb up and swing their legs over the crib!
When you do make the switch, I recommend going straight to a twin or full-sized bed. Then be very clear about the rules! An okay-to-wake alarm clock and reward systems are helpful. But the key is to enforce your rule of staying in bed. Good Luck!
Babies cry for lots of reasons...this is their only way of communication after all! But how do you know if your baby is actually hungry each time they are waking in the night?? This can be one of parent's biggest struggles. Most of us, myself included, are consumed by making sure our children are getting enough calories and nutrition each day. Both of my own children were tiny babies and have always been on the low end of the growth chart so I'm especially sensitive to this whole idea. Dropping that last night feeding was extremely difficult and worrisome for me so I completely understand the struggle. Here are a few things for you to consider if your baby is waking in the night.
Are they over 6 months of age? 6 months is a good benchmark and typically the age where a baby can sleep through the night. Of course you should talk with your pediatrician first and make sure your baby's growth is on track but chances are if your baby has reached this mark and is still waking, then their night feedings are probably more so habitual rather than actual hunger or caloric need. Some infants sleep through the night much sooner, so if that's your baby, don't be worried! Thank your lucky stars!!
Are they eating enough during the day? Is your baby getting good solids and taking full feedings during the day? If not, you may be in a vicious cycle of more calories in the night than in the day and will need to make a switch. Babies will very quickly make up lost calories from the night the following day. But if they are getting adequate daytime calories then you can be more confident that they don't need the extra calories at night.
Is baby falling asleep quickly when you feed them? The scenario looks like this- your baby just went to sleep an hour ago but is up again crying, you offer a feeding and they take an ounce before they pass out again. There is a good chance they are only feeding for comfort/assistance falling asleep rather than hunger.
Let's say your baby does take a full feeding. Do they go back to sleep for a good long 3-4 hour stretch afterwards? If not then again the wakings are more likely due to comfort and sucking than hunger. Some babies just have a very strong feed/sleep association and so this needs to be broken in order for your child to sleep through the night. We call this a prop or crutch. If your child falls asleep at bedtime nursing or taking a bottle, then they will ineveitably have wakings in the night where they need the breast or bottle again. That's because this is the only way they know how to fall asleep! When they learn to fall asleep without their prop, then they will be able to get themselves back to sleep in the night without it. Babies who know how to fall asleep independently sleep through the night much earlier than other babies.
I hope this helps you to distinguish what's going on with your little one! I know that dropping feedings can be a tough process so I'm here if you need me!
Oh those dreaded early morning wakings!!! I'm not a coffee drinker but man when I get hit with a streak of early wakings from my little guy, I wish I was! There can be many reasons for early wakings but first off, if your child normally sleeps until a decent hour and the wakings start out of the blue, it may just be a phase that will last a week or 2. So, don't panic! You may just have to ride it out. However, here are some things to consider and tips to try especially if it has been going on for a long time!
-Make sure your child's room is DARK! It should be as dark at 6:00AM as it is at 4:00AM. During summertime, it gets light outside earlier, and even the slightest bit of light coming in can wake a child. Invest in some good black out shades or blinds. You may even have to double up with blinds and then black out shades on top.
-Try to keep your baby in the dark room until your minimum wake up time. Ex. 6:00AM. If you consistently get them up for the day and out into the light it can make your babies body clock and melatonin levels set to waking at the too early time.
-With an older baby, create a buffer before you offer the first feeding. If you get your baby out of the crib at 6:00AM, wait 5-10 minutes before you offer the first feeding. This creates just enough space that they won't be waking in anticipation of the feeding.
-Make sure your baby isn't cold. The body temperature drops around 4:00AM. Use socks or sleep sacks and warm jammies to keep your baby comfortable all night.
-If your baby eats solids, make sure they are getting solids with plenty of good fats and proteins throughout the day.
-Tinker with the bedtime. More often than not, the bedtime is too late so try a half hour earlier for a week or so. I know this sounds backwards but it may be that your baby is overtired. If this doesn't work then try a half hour later than the original bedtime.
-Make sure your child is getting the right amount of daytime sleep at the right times for their age. Too much or too little daytime sleep can cause issues with morning wake time.
I hope your child's early wakings are short-lived and that these tips are helpful! Hang in there, moms and dads. I'm sending strength your way!
Does this sound familiar?
Your baby wakes up in the morning. You feed her, change her, play with her for a while, maybe feed her again and then rock her to sleep and put her gingerly into her crib for her morning nap.
And then, 30 minutes later, she wakes up fussy and irritable and, despite your pleading, refuses to go back to sleep. So after half an hour of trying to put her back down, you finally give in, hoping she’ll be that much more tired when her afternoon nap rolls around, only to have the exact same scenario play out again, and baby is cranky the rest of the day!
So here’s what’s going on, and how to fix it. Babies, just like the rest of us, sleep in cycles. We start off in a light state where we’re easily woken up, then gradually fall into a deeper stage where even loud noises or movement might not be able to rouse us. This is the good stuff. This is the really restorative, restful sleep where our brains and bodies do all of the maintenance work that leaves us feeling refreshed. Once we’ve come to the end of the deep-sleep cycle, we slowly start coming back to the light stage again, and typically we wake up for a few seconds and then drift off again, and the whole thing starts again.
In adults, one of those cycles typically takes about an hour and a half. In babies, it can be as little as 30 minutes. So the fact that your baby is waking up after only 30 minutes is actually completely natural. “But,” you’re thinking, “I have friends whose babies nap for two or three hours at a time.” Well, that’s partially true. But in a more literal sense, they’re stringing together several sleep cycles in a row. The only difference between their baby and your baby is…they’ve learned how to fall back to sleep on their own. That’s it. That really is the heart of the issue. Once your baby can fall asleep without help, they’ll start stringing together those sleep cycles. That’s going to make your baby a whole lot happier and, probably you too!
So remember back at the start of that scenario, there you were, getting ready to put baby down for her nap, gently feeding and rocking her to sleep and then putting her down in her crib. Stop right there. That’s where you need to make some changes. Because in this scenario, you are acting as what we in the sleep consulting business refer to as a “sleep prop.” Sleep props are basically anything that your baby uses to make the transition from awake to asleep. Putting baby down awake to find sleep on their own is the key.
Some other pointers for extending baby’s nap time…
● Keep the bedroom as dark as possible. Buy some blackout blinds if the sun is getting in,
or if you’re on a budget, tape some black garbage bags over the windows. It doesn’t
have to be pretty, it just has to be functional.
● White noise machines are useful if baby tends to wake up due to the neighbor’s barking
dog, siblings running around like banshees, or any other noise that might startle them out of their nap.
Just make sure it’s not too close to their ears and not too loud. 50 dB is the recommended limit.
● If you’re running into trouble putting your baby in their crib awake, that's where I can help.
Sleep training is not an easy process for every baby and can be even more difficult for you as the parent.
Shoot me an email so we can chat!
Has your baby started rolling?! This can be such an exciting milestone as a first-time parent but it can also be disruptive to sleep!
Maybe your babe has made it onto their tummy and now they are stuck and are MAD! If this happens, you have to go in and roll them back over simple as that. The best thing you can do in this situation is to encourage lots of "rolling practice" during the daytime. Have tummy or floor time several times a day and allow your baby to practice those skills. The quicker they master rolling both ways, the sooner they will stop getting "stuck" while trying to sleep.
Some parents get very anxious when their baby first starts making it onto their tummy and falls asleep that way. It has after all been drilled into our heads that babies have to be put down on their back to sleep. But that is the important distinction. Put your baby down for sleep on their back but if they can get to their tummy all by themselves, then you are okay to leave them there for sleep. There is no reason to flip them onto their back if they are comfortable and peacefully sleeping on their tummy.
Most importantly, make sure you STOP swaddling by the time your baby starts rolling. It is a suffocation hazzard for baby's arms to be swaddled in when they start to roll. The American Academy of Pediatrics has now started recommeding that swaddling be stopped by 8 weeks old. To transition out, start swaddling with one arm out for a few days and then both arms out. Then you can go straight to a sleep sack.